Evergreen Trees for Small Spaces

Cynthia Bee, Conservation Garden Park

Now that we’re finally getting the first real glimpse of winter, the remaining fall leaves will quickly fade away and we’ll be left with their bare branches. However, a winter landscape need not be colorless or boring. There are some fantastic evergreens that can enliven your winter landscape in ways you may not expect—while managing to fit within the space you have available.

Over the past couple of decades, great emphasis has been placed on breeding and selecting plant varieties, and particularly evergreen varieties, that are smaller and more compact. If you’ve avoided planting evergreens in your yard out of fear that they will eventually grow far too large, these newer varieties can ease your concerns. The key is to pick the right plant then give the plant the space it needs- few landscape blunders are quite so noticeable and, well, weird as “popsicled” evergreens. Evergreens, and spruce trees specifically, rely on the lower branches to support upper branches when loaded with snow thus to avoid damage, it’s important to leave the lower branches intact.

Weeping White Spruce. (Picea glauca ‘Pendula’) 35 feet tall x 6 feet wide. If you plant only one evergreen, this would be the one. Though the name says “weeping” it’s actually an upright tree but the branches are gracefully weeping creating an elegant silhouette. Deep green color with the short needles typical to spruces. The 6’ foot width and fast growth rate makes it an excellent fit for tight spaces or smaller yards.

Columnar Blue Spruce. (Picea pungens ‘Fastigiata’) 35 feet tall x 6 feet wide. This narrow, upright tree boasts the same lovely blue-green needles typical to blue spruces, but in a much smaller package. The unusual needle color plays nicely against shades of green and is an especially great companion for yellow-foliaged shrubs.

‘Fat Albert’ Blue Spruce. (Picea pungens ‘Fat Albert’) 20 feet tall by 10 feet wide. Hey, hey, hey, it’s Fat Albert! This smaller-scale blue spruce is a favorite for perimeter planting beds or the back corner of the yard where a little girth is acceptable to fill in some space and provide screening of the neighbor’s shed or RV.

Columnar Scots Pine. (Pinus sylvestris ‘Fastigiata’) 25 feet tall x 6 feet wide. Long, dark green needles that are typical to all pine trees but with the distinction of having shaggy orange-toned bark. Stiffly upright. Moderate growth rate.

Angel Falls Pine. (Pinus ‘Angel Falls’) 15 feet tall x 5 feet wide. An elegant weeping variety with the long needles. Use this tree as a focal point in the front yard landscape. Moderate growth rate.